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Liberty or death,
What we so proudly hail,
Once you provoke her,
Rattling of her tail.
Never begins it,
Never but once engaged,
Never surrenders,
Showing the fangs of rage.
Say don't tread on me.
So be it.
Threaten no more,
to secure peace is,
to prepare for war.
So be it.
Settle the score.
Trust me again with
the words you will hear evermore.
Metallica—Don't Tread on Me

Tracy walked into the basement of the abandoned building and looked around. No sign of him. Great. Tracy and Kierthos had gotten to Chicago two days ago, and after having sold the car they stole from Dynamax to a chop shop, they had been hiding out. Tracy had finally found an old friend of hers in town and had come back to the building she and Kierthos had been staying in to get him. But it looked like he had left again.

Even though Tracy had told Kierthos to stay here, he had disappeared several times. "Damn amnesia of his. He forgets everything." She walked through the basement, heading towards the crumbling stairs in the back. On the way, she noticed the number of weapons Kierthos had been 'collecting' from the locals had grown in size. There were knives of all sizes, a couple of pairs of nunchakas, and a spiked baseball bat. "Why can't he get their guns too? Then at least we'd have some decent weapons." Although Tracy's Omega power was formidable, she had to touch her target to affect it.

Walking up the stairs to the first floor of the building, she saw Kierthos entering through one of the numerous holes in the building. "Where have you been? I told you to wait here? Is that too much to ask?" He just stared at her for a minute and walked past her, back down to the basement. "Christ, it was easier being a thief." As she followed him back down to the basement, she saw what he had 'acquired' today. From the beat-up pack he was carrying, he removed a pair of sai, a large knife, and... a crossbow? "Where did you get this?" she grabbed the crossbow. This was all she needed, for him to start stealing things. He'd bring down the cops on them both.

Kierthos stared at her again, and then took the crossbow back. "I traded for it. The merchant gave me this for two of the guns I had." Tracy grimaced. Knowing the thugs around here, she realized that Kierthos had probably just traded away two 9mils for a $30 crossbow. "Where are the arrows, or bolts, or whatever?" She looked up. Great, the dummy finally gets a distance weapon, and doesn't get any ammo for it.

"I do not need them." Kierthos began to clean his collection of weapons again. Tracy shook her head. "Slow down. We have to go somewhere. I found a friend who can help us out." Kierthos nodded and put away most of the weapons. Keeping a few with him, he put on a trenchcoat, another item he had 'acquired' from the local youth, and picked up the crossbow. Somehow, he was able to hide it under the trenchcoat without looking like he was carrying any weapons.

"This friend you found can help us find this Colony you spoke of?" Kierthos and Tracy walked out of the basement. "Yeah, Greg's an Omega himself, but he never joined the Colony. But he knows most things that happen in this city. Besides, he owes me a favor." Tracy grinned as they walked down the street.

{Thermographic systems check} - 100% functional - {Computer systems check} - 100% functional - {Weapons systems check} - 100% functional - {Bio-enhancer systems check} - 100% functional - {Force field systems check} - 100% functional - {Psi-mite systems check} - 100% functional -

Ausford was ready. This time, the Omegas would pay.

Tracy walked down the street, trying to avoid anything and anyone that could set Kierthos off. His amnesia was working overtime, giving him no small amount of paranoia as well. Which did not sit well with Tracy, or with the cops, or even the gang members guarding the door of the bar Tracy tried to get into.

"So, you and mister jumpy here got bizness inside, little girl?" one of the gang members got into her face as she tried to open the door. Several others moved closer. "I'm meeting Greg inside. You got a problem with that?"

"You could say I do. You see, we at a state of war right now, and nobody, I mean nobody gets inside to see the man without us checking them out first." He signaled, and the other gang members pulled out pistols.

"Shit" Tracy started to duck, knowing Kierthos was about to kick into high gear, when a voice from inside the building spoke up. "But what if I want to see them as they are, Jackson? Let them in, now."

Tracy turned back to the gang member, who had his arms crossed. "Well, I guess you and the man got a meeting after all. You and your pal can go on in." Jackson seemed visibly impressed that Tracy was this trusted by Greg.

Tracy opened the door and walked inside, followed closely by Kierthos and a couple of the gang members. "Greg, you asshole, what's the idea? You knew we were coming." Tracy was not pleased to see her old boyfriend.

"Like Jackson said, we're at war right now. A couple of the other gangs want us dead right now. And the family is helping them. Seems no one likes an Omega running anything around here."

"When he happens to be a telepathic crook, who rips off everyone, and I mean everyone else, gee I'm so surprised about that." Tracy had seen this coming months ago. She left to avoid being caught in a firefight. And then her Omega powers erupted in a spectacular display, which had the unfortunate effect of Dynamax noticing her.

"Greg, I came here for a reason. I need to know where the Colony is. I need to find them real bad." Tracy hated coming to Greg for anything, but this was the only way she knew to get the information she needed.

"And so you come to me, is that it? I wish I could tell you, but I can't." Greg shrugged and started to turn away.

"Greg, damnit, nothing goes on in this town without you knowing about it. Now I need to know." Tracy pointed to Kierthos. "He's an Omega, and he needs more help then I can give him right now. I got my own problems."

"Listen, Tracy, right now, everyone has their own problems. I have to try and keep my people alive right now when everything is coming down on us. I should be glad the feds haven't found out about me, but I suppose it's only a matter of time. And you come strolling back in after running off and want help to find the Colony? Give me one reason why I should even help you find that bunch?"

Tracy grabbed a half-full bottle of soda water from the bar. "Well, for one thing, I'm an Omega too." Tracy froze the bottle solid and dropped it back on the bar. "So, maybe it would be nice if you told me what I need to know so I can get out of here. I figure you've got enough problems without Dynamax breathing down your neck."

Greg was caught a bit off guard by Tracy's outburst. "Look, you know I'm not fond of those Colony guys, but I'd help you if I could. But the Colony has left Chicago."

Tracy sat down on one of the stools. Kierthos, who had been silent since entering the bar, walked over towards her. "Are you alright?"

"Yeah... I was just hoping to find the Colony. I was kind of hoping they would be able to help me out... help me get me life back together."

Greg walked over as well. "I hate to interrupt this touching moment, but what was that bit about Dynamax? I know they've got an interest in Omegas, but I haven't heard anything bizarre going on."

"Huh, guess you don't know everything that goes on." Tracy said.

"Like I said, I really don't need the feds coming after me right now. And Dynamax is working a touch too closely with the feds on a few things right now..." Greg said. "I don't know exactly what, but I've picked up a few things."

"Dynamax held me prisoner for a week, and was planning on cutting me open to see how I worked. Same with him." Tracy pointed to Kierthos.

Now it was Greg's turn to be stunned. "Shit... I figured that they weren't in this to 'better mankind' but I didn't think they were that sleazy. Did they hurt you? Are you ok? How did you escape?"

"We're fine. Look it's a long story I'd rather not go into now. Right now is not the best time for it." Tracy had to smile a bit. Greg still had a heart after all this time. What a shock.

Greg thought for a minute. "Wait, why haven't you gone to the news with this? I got some friends in the industry who would love a story like this."

"Yeah, right. And then it would come out that I'm a renegade Omega, as well as a convicted felon. That'll make my story real believable. Face it, right now Dynamax has all the cards. Anyway, I don't want to bring them down right now. I don't think I could be myself. That's one of the reasons why I wanted to find the Colony. You know, see if they'd help me, or something."

"Well, I'm not sure of the reliability of this, but I have heard that something went down in Detroit recently. Maybe the Colony relocated there." Greg reached behind the bar and grabbed a bag. "Here... you're going to need some money to get there. This should be enough."

Kierthos suddenly tensed and dove towards Tracy, knocking her to the floor. An instant before gunfire erupted through the bar, Greg dropped to the ground, screaming about an attack. Screams of pain were heard from outside, and the front door was kicked in. Two men entered, holding machine guns. Rather than the gang punks Tracy had expected, the two were well dressed, and very well armed. {Just what I need right now... a mafia attack.} Greg's thoughts echoed in Tracy's mind.

Before the gunmen could open fire on the three of them, Kierthos rolled over, pulled out his crossbow, and fired. The lack of a bolt didn't seem to bother him, as one of the hitmen fell to the ground, clutching at his shoulder. Although no bolt had been fired, the gunman was bleeding heavily. Kierthos fired again, getting the other one in the throat, killing him.

Another few brief bursts of gunfire, and all was quiet. Jackson looked out the front door, and came back into the bar. "We lost four guys. An' we got another couple who don't look so hot."

Kierthos grabbed the surviving gunman off the floor and slammed him onto the bar, scattering broken glass everywhere. "You will talk or you will die." Kierthos pulled a large knife out and held it against the man's throat. Greg whispered to Tracy. "I like your friend. He's nice and subtle. How did he do that trick with the crossbow? There's no bolts in the wounds."

"I have no idea." Tracy and Greg stopped talking as the gunman spilled his guts before Kierthos had the chance. "Tony Sanducci sent us. He's tired of you ripping off his runners. We were supposed to get as many of you as we could and get out."

"I was expecting this." Greg said. "And although I hate to do this... I have to if I want to keep my people alive." Greg grabbed the gunman from Kierthos. "You tell Sanducci that I'm working for Losetti now. And that if wants to start a war, he can have one." Greg shoved the gunman out the door. "Jackson, make sure he gets back to Sanducci. Then see that he has an accident. That is, if Sanducci doesn't kill him first."

Tracy and Kierthos headed towards the door as well. "Look Greg, I'd love to hang around, but..."

"Get out of here. Hell, I'm not sure if Losetti well protect me. Even though I never ripped him off, he may sell me to the highest bidder, if you get my meaning." Greg walked over to Tracy and kissed her. "Take care of yourself." Looking at Kierthos, Greg added, "You watch out for her. If anything, I mean anything happens to her, I'm coming after you." Kierthos nodded. This he understood.

Ausford activated the tracking system. Using the global satelites, he was able to pinpoint their location. Chicago. He would be there inside of an hour.

Moving to the back of the plane, he looked over his equipment. Orders had come down that they were to be taken alive, so Ausford had to restrict his choices of weaponry. Tasers, tranquilizer guns, and catch nets were stowed away. He then turned to the armor. Specially designed to counter the cryo-kinetic powers of the girl, they were able to channel the cold back at whoever Ausford aimed at. Not that he was expecting to let the girl touch him again.

Kierthos picked up the weapons he had bought at the dojo and began to practice with them. Tracy walked downstairs during his practice to watch him. No matter what weapons he used, he seemed to be a master with them. He had already gone through complex katas with nunchaka, sai, and a wicked looking sword.

"I hope you're almost done... I'd like to leave before sunset." In response, Kierthos stopped practicing, and began packing away all of the weapons he had accumulated over the past several days. "Say, how did you do that trick with the crossbow? There was no way that should have happened. No way at all."

"Would it surprise you to hear me say that I do not know how it was accomplished either?" Kierthos grabbed the duffel bag and walked upstairs. Tracy followed him. Then climbed in the used car Tracy had bought, and drove off.

Doug got off the phone with Tony Losetti. The mob boss had been quite surprised when Doug said that he would like to join up with him. Losetti had also said that he'd keep Sanducci's boys off of Doug's back. So it was a bit of a surprise when six men walked in the bar. Doug didn't recognize any of them, and he knew all of Losetti's guys. And he couldn't read any of their minds, either.

"We understand you are a past acquaintance of Tracy Montgomery." one of the men in black said. The bastard didn't even bother showing a picture. They knew they were in the right place. "And we were wondering if you had seen her lately."

"And if I had, why should I tell you?" Doug realized these guys must work for Dynamax. No way in hell were they going to let Tracy go. Not when she could blow the whistle on them.

"It could be very profitable for you if you are able to help us." the man pulled a wad of bills out of his pocket. "You might consider this fifty thousand dollars a down payment, in fact." He placed the money on the bar counter. "Of course, if you can't help us.... well, I'm sure you can help us."

Doug thought for a second. Then gunfire erupted from all sides of the bar as his gang mowed down the men in black. When the gunfire stopped, only one of them was still moving. "One, I never roll over on a friend. Two, you should never screw with a telepath."

"Three.... check for kevlar." The last man grabbed Doug and threw him against the wall. Doug fell to the ground unconscious, the last thing he heard was more gunfire... and screams.

"Ausford to base. Nothing here. The targets appear to have left Chicago." If only the blasted tracker hadn't stopped working. And he had been so close. Ausford left the bar behind him. The papers would report it as a brutal gangland attack with no survivors.

Next Issue: Kierthos and Tracy arrive in Detroit to find the Colony...and they find it destroyed. (A Tazakles Gambit tie-in). Plus, more revalations about Kierthos' past and powers.

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